Back before he was the Governator, Ahh-nold Schwarzenegger wasn’t only an action-movie hero and super-buffed up Austrian bodybuilder. He was apparently the basis for one action game character after another. And Sylvester Stallone’s bad-ass Rambo wasn’t far behind. But no game ever blatantly stole the likeness of these two action heroes like Super Contra did. Just watch the intro. There’s no way those two heroes aren’t Rambo and Commando (or whatever his name was). “Bill and Lance,” our ass.
Super Contra on Xbox Live is the arcade sequel to the original Contra, and the basis for the game a lot more of us are probably familiar with - Super C on the NES. But just like Contra before it, Super Contra on Live Arcade is based solely on the coin-op version of the game, right down to the backwards screen ratio. Here, as in Contra, the play field is taller than it is wide. And that presents the same problems as the original game - mostly that in the side-scrolling levels, the narrow play field makes it easier for your enemies to take you by surprise.
And the pseudo-3D corridors from the original game have been replaced with significantly less-fun overhead shooting levels. This stuff worked in Contra III on the SNES because of the ability to rotate the playing field with the shoulder buttons. But the control in Super Contra is a bit sluggish, and so these overhead levels (and the ridiculously low range of your standard gun) just a real pain in the butt.
As usual, you get two-player co-op here, both online and offline. The online experience isn’t quite as good as the co-op found in the recently released Golden Axe, but it’s passable.
Super Contra really is just more of the same, and if that’s what you’re looking for, you won’t be disappointed. With limited continues and a good level of challenge, this game definitely won’t be a cakewalk. Just don’t expect anything that spectacular, either.